* The European Securities and Markets Authority, or ESMA, will focus on supervisory convergence and the formation of the Capital Markets Union as part of its key priorities for the 2020-2022 period. ESMA Chair Steven Maijoor, meanwhile, told Reuters that assessments of whether derivatives clearing houses in the U.K. could obtain access to investors in the EU after Brexit could be completed by June, although a final decision would still depend on deal talks between two sides.
* Lawmakers in the U.K. House of Commons yesterday voted 330 to 231 in favor of the country's Withdrawal Agreement Bill, BBC News reported. The Brexit bill will now be passed to the House of Lords for approval next week. Britain is set to depart from the bloc Jan. 31.
UK AND IRELAND
* Sterling dropped yesterday as the outgoing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney indicated that the central bank could pursue more stimulus measures to spur growth in the British economy. Carney said the U.K.'s economic growth is expected to pick up from its current below-potential rates, helped by reduced Brexit uncertainties, easing fiscal policy and a modest recovery in global growth.
* Beazley PLC is seeking additional catastrophe cover for cyber events through a reinsurance product jointly launched with RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd.
* British credit card issuer NewDay Ltd. agreed to acquire retail finance company Deko, unnamed sources told Sky News. NewDay is reportedly planning to diversify its business and the potential deal could value Deko at up to £40 million.
GERMANY, SWITZERLAND AND AUSTRIA
* Hamburg, Germany-based Gossmann & Cie acquired Schwarzmeer und Ostsee Versicherungs AG SOVAG, or SOVAG, for an undisclosed sum. The deal follows SOVAG's transfer of its legacy portfolio to Darag Group Ltd. on Dec. 19 last year.
* Six former bankers of the now-defunct Maple Bank GmbH and a former partner of law firm Freshfields have been charged by Frankfurt prosecutors for their alleged involvement in so-called cum-ex deals, insiders told Reuters. The accused reportedly caused the German government losses of over €380 million in tax revenues.
* The planned introduction of a financial transaction tax in Germany has been coldly received by the Association of German Banks, with co-CEO Andreas Krautscheid believing that it would create an additional burden on pension funds and schemes, as well as punish those who invest in shares, Handelsblatt reported.
FRANCE AND BENELUX
* Lobby group Paris Europlace said decisions to relocate 4,000 financial sector jobs in London to Paris as a result of Brexit had been taken, and that it was confident its target of 5,000 transferred jobs will be met, La Tribune reported. The group, meanwhile, published its own proposals to reform the activist investor law, Les Echos reported. It wants activist investors to have a legal obligation to publish their strategies for a company and for laws on short selling to be tightened.
* French central bank Governor François Villeroy de Galhau said the regulator was not in favor of banks imposing negative interest rates on customers, Les Echos reported.
* Gerben Everts, a highly critical supervisor of the Dutch accountancy sector, will leave the board of the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets on May 12 after eight years, Het Financieele Dagblad reported. Everts will be succeeded by fellow AFM board member Hanzo van Beusekom.
SPAIN AND PORTUGAL
* The European Commission approved Banco Santander SA's acquisition of a 60% stake in Allianz Popular SL from Allianz Group. Santander currently owns 40% of the Spain-based insurer as a result of its acquisition of Banco Popular Español SA. Santander, meanwhile, placed €1.5 billion in Additional Tier 1 bonds.
* Banco de Sabadell SA has agreed to sell its online ticketing business, Instant Ticket, to Madrid-based software provider and online platform Impronta Technological Services as part of its strategy to sell off non-core businesses, Cinco Días reported.
* Spain's Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office requested a 4.5-year prison term for former Banco de Valencia SA President José Luis Olivas and former CEO Domingo Parra for alleged accounting fraud committed between 2009 and 2010, Expansión reported. The prosecutor accuses 12 other people of the same crime.
* Banco Montepio SA's board of directors approved the appointment of Pedro Leitão as executive chairman, ending months of uncertainty at the savings bank, Jornal de Negócios and Expresso reported. Leitão was previously chief digital officer at Banco Atlântico Europa SA.
ITALY AND GREECE
* Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SpA's fourth-quarter 2019 net result is expected to include a negative impact of roughly €1.2 billion from a revision of the value of its deferred tax assets. The bank, however, does not expect the revision to have an impact on its capital ratios.
* Italian asset manager Azimut Holding SpA raised its net profit forecast for 2020 to at least €300 million from a prior forecast of between €250 million and €300 million as it expects to close 2019 with the "best consolidated net profit in the history of the group."
* Some shareholders in Unione di Banche Italiane SpA and BPER Banca SpA have begun examining the possibility of a merger between the two banks, MF said.
* Mercury UK — a vehicle of private equity firms Bain Capital, Advent International and Clessidra — said it is selling a 7.7% stake in Italian payment group Nexi SpA through an accelerated bookbuilding, Reuters reported. The stake is valued at roughly €600 million.
* Lithuania's Šiaulių Bankas AB agreed to acquire a retail loan portfolio, including its liabilities, of €125 million from the local branch of Copenhagen-based Danske Bank A/S. Šiaulių Bankas said the deal will be completed within four months of the transaction's announcement. Danske Bank, meanwhile, plans to let go of 108 Finnish employees as part of a restructuring of units, Reuters reported. The Danish group is looking to cut costs amid rising compliance requirements.
* Denmark-based Spar Nord Bank A/S upgraded its guidance for its full-year 2019 after-tax profit to between 1.05 billion kroner and 1.06 billion kroner from a previous guidance of between 925 million kroner and 1.03 billion kroner. The bank attributed the upgrade to high remortgage loans and lower-than-expected loan impairments.
* Estonian Finance Minister Martin Helme urged the biggest banks in the country to bolster their anti-money laundering controls in light of recent scandals, Bloomberg News reported.
* AS Holding, which is part of AlfaStrakhovanie PLC group, is negotiating the purchase of Saint Petersburg-based insurer Capital-Polis Med and filed a request with Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service at the end of December to approve the planned acquisition, Vedomosti said.
* A Moscow court extended the house arrest of Baring Vostok Capital Partners Ltd. founder Michael Calvey and other executives suspected of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles from Public Stock Co. Orient Express Bank until Feb. 13, RBC reported.
* Russian National Commercial Bank completed integration with PJSC Krasnodar Regional Investment Bank, with the merged lender to operate under the Russian National Commercial Bank brand.
* Poland's Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, or UOKiK, launched proceedings against Idea Bank SA over practices potentially violating collective consumer interests. The bank said it disagrees with the regulator's allegations and will seek to question them during the proceedings.
* Poland's state prosecutor indicted the Financial Supervision Authority's former head Marek Chrzanowski on corruption charges, with the indictment sent to court on Dec. 31, Reuters wrote.
* Poland's Bank Guarantee Fund set the minimum requirement for own funds and eligible liabilities, or MREL, for Bank Handlowy w Warszawie SA with a Dec. 31, 2022 deadline to meet it, news agency PAP reported. The requirement was set at 12.814% of the sum of Handlowy's total liabilities and own funds, or TLOF, which corresponds to 20.742% of the total risk exposure on the consolidated level. On the stand-alone level, the MREL was set at 12.899% of TLOF, which also corresponds to 20.742% of the total risk exposure.
* The Serbian central bank decided to keep its key policy rate unchanged at 2.25%.
* JSC CB PRIVATBANKs former board chairman and minority shareholder Oleksandr Dubilet filed a lawsuit against the Ukrainian state over the nationalization of the bank, Interfax Ukraine reported, citing news portal Finbalance. Similar claims were also filed by other former managers and minority shareholders of the bank. The executives challenged, among other things, the forced conversion of their deposits into new shares of the bank, which were issued during the 2016 nationalization and purchased by the state for 1 hryvnia together with the existing shares of the lender.
IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Asia-Pacific: Vietnam to raise 4 banks' capital; Westpac to review operations
Middle East & Africa: World Bank cuts global growth forecast; Bank of Israel holds key rate
Latin America: Argentine central bank eyes rate cuts; Banco Davivienda gets IFC loan
North America: Jefferies' fiscal Q4 results; AmEx unit eyes China ops; Wells to hike tech hires
Global Insurance: Voya held sale talks; 2019 was second-wettest for US; Suncorp bushfire claims
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Sheryl Obejera, Daniel Stephens, Danielle Rossingh, Esben Svendsen, Beata Fojcik, Heather O'Brian, Brian McCulloch, Sophie Davies and Helen Popper contributed to this report.
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